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MarketCast-TV-Viewer-Attitudes-to-Pay-TV-Subscriptions-Oct2013While media industry execs believe that over-the-top (OTT) services will supplement rather than replace pay-TV, TV viewers themselves believe that pay-TV will be largely replaced by alternative viewing sources in the next 5 years, according to survey results from MarketCast. Currently, (a seemingly-high) 25% of respondents believe that traditional TV service subscribers are in the minority. In 5 years, though, 53% believe that TV viewers subscribing to the traditional model will be in the minority. That would require a huge increase in cord-cutters, estimated to last year comprise just 1.1% of pay-TV households.

(When considering the study’s results, it’s worth noting that the survey was conducted online among viewers aged 18-49, who tend to watch significantly less traditional TV than their older counterparts.)

Holding back viewers’ expected “sea change” in TV services will be actual follow-through on the part of those considering cutting the cord. According to the MarketCast survey, roughly 4 in 10 currently subscribing to a traditional service are either extremely or very likely to cancel it in the future. But, 7 in 10 of these so-called “cord considerers” admit that their bundled package (e.g. internet and TV) is a key tether. (This argument was eloquently made in a recent article penned by a Magna Global exec.) What’s more, 6 in 10 admit that they don’t have the conviction to follow through with their plans. This gap between intent and actual behavior was recently illustrated by research from The Diffusion Group looking at pay-TV attitudes among Millennials living at home.

Returning to the MarketCast study, the results suggest that slightly more than half of cord-cutters canceled their service because they didn’t want to pay for channels they didn’t watch. That result aligns with prior research showing that cost is a major driver of cord-cutting behavior. It also suggests that consumers want “a la carte” programming – which emerged as the second-most desired feature (after cost) when respondents considered their ideal package of TV services. (PwC also recently found viewers to prefer a la carte to the full programming package.)

One of the problems with disaggregating channels, though, is having to pay for multiple internet-based TV subscriptions, cited as the main reason “cord-keepers” maintain their existing subscriptions.

Other Findings:

  • Only 18% of TV viewers value live sports access more than any other TV service feature.
  • TV viewers were much more likely to prefer the ability to choose when they consume their favorite programs than where (i.e. on multiple devices).
  • In terms of how a TV service package is comprised, viewers rated the delivery method (wired, cable, internet, etc.) at the bottom of the value hierarchy.
  • Roughly one-quarter of premium TV service subscribers considering cutting the cord said they would “definitely” do so if they could subscribe to a standalone premium service.
  • Only 12% of non-connected TV viewers would “definitely” subscribe to such a standalone service, though.
  • Cord-cutters show above-average annual consumption of paid media.

About the Data: The MarketCast study – “TV Re-Packaged: How Viewers See the Future of the Medium” – was conducted online among 1,200 American TV viewers aged 18-49.

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